I'm a Sunshine Coast journalist who jumped out of a lengthy mainstream media career 18 months ago to do some hearty work for the soul. A pescatarian sharing with you her secrets on our little piece of coast paradise.
Published August 16th 2012
Cost cutting doesn't mean cutting out the fun
With the majority of 2013 gone, along with a lifestyle comfortably catered for by said previous career, one has no choice but to forget about "style" and focus instead on "life".
So for my very first Weekend Notes story, I present the "Top 5 Free Sunshine Coast Attractions (so far!)" where the only cost is your fuel.
Located in the lush and luminescent eucalypt forest of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, you will find the icy pools and spectacular cascades of Kondalilla Falls. Just three kilometres from magical Montville - brave these waters if you dare (my husband and his mother weren't hearing of it). This isn't your average local swimming hole. The highlight is Skene Creek, which drops 90 metres over falls to the rainforest valley below. The endless spectacles is spellbinding and can be seen from two easy walking circuits – the 1.7km (45min – 1hr) Picnic Creek Circuit to the longer but worthwhile 4.7km (2-3hrs) Kondalilla Falls walk. Mind the 100 plus stairs! Growing in popularity, summer traditionally brings large crowds to Kondalilla (an Aboriginal word for "rushing waters"), so make the most of the cooler months and grab that picnic basket for an incredible day out you won't forget.
For three years it beckoned me quietly, and then last year I finally stopped putting off what is arguably the coast's most famous mountain walk. And it holds great significance for Australia's environment being one of the countries most important ecological square kilometres due to its 700 plus types of plant species. The panoramic 360-degree view of the Sunshine Coast at the mount's 208-metre peak will leave you breathless in more ways than one. Again if it's a perfect day – you may encounter some of the natives. They are easily identified by their Nike joggers, buff bods and the occasional incredulous glare at another fumbling tourist. A medium level of fitness is required for a walk to the summit, which takes, between half an hour to an hour.
3. Buderim Forest Park Smack in the middle of suburbia is a sanctuary like no other. And Buderim Forest Park may just be the coast's best-kept secret – at least until now.
Covering an incredible 45 hectares, it is fast becoming the muse for amateur and professional photographers and painters alike. The centrepiece is Serenity Falls, and the towering charm of the old green bridge provides quite the backdrop to capture your memories.
The multitudes of rock pools whisper "adventure" to the kids while the secluded walkways and still beauty has left many a star-crossed couple red-faced, caught mid-tryst. Beautiful and just minutes away.
One for the early birds - Tin Can Bay is located 113km north of Noosaville, which means a 5.30am departure to get there for the 7am feed of Mystique and his motley crew. For more than 30 years the rare and wild Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins have been coming in to Norman Point where they are hand-fed by humans.
Anyone can watch this incredible encounter from a few short feet, but for just a few dollars you can be a part of it.
Not everything in Noosa costs money, and what do you know - the best free nature experience I've had so far on the coast is the Noosa Coastal Track.
My incessant exclamations from one kilometre to the next left my husband making a final desperate (one might say over-the-top) plea for silence. From the bird's eye view of the patient surfers below to the colours of the aqua ocean, the white beaches and the shadows of the mix of towering trees, the sheer beauty combined with the freshest of air left me feeling like I was floating the entire 10.8km track.
Don't be disheartened by the distance - there are a variety of smaller versions including one with wheel-chair access. Be sure to take water, your camera and good walking shoes.